Sam Zell Deal Begins To Look Better for LAT
Who would have ever thought, during the Chandler era, that the L.A. Times would one day be owned by the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, and a strong philanthropic backer of both Israel and the Israeli support association in the U.S., AIPAC? Such facts should certainly have been mentioned in the extensive Los Angeles Times and New York Times coverage this morning, but weren't.
Possibly more important than this is that Sam Zell is already half a Californian, the owner of a $14 million Malibu home, where he and his wife already spend a good deal of time. In fact, Zell was in Malibu this past weekend when the deal for him to buy the Tribune Co. was closed. Those facts were mentioned in the coverage.
Under these circumstances, editors of the L.A. Times ought to put on a full court press to make Zell feel at home as owner of the paper.
It could well be that under his direction, the Times will become more friendly to Los Angeles' Jewish community, and a greater booster of California than it has been in recent years.
Zell's parents fled Poland just before Hitler marched in in 1939 and shortened their Polish name from Zielonska to Zell once they arrived in America. So Zell is anything but part of the WASP business community in Chicago.
He and his wife have already been flying into the Ventura County airport about half the weekends of the year, according to press reports this morning.
It could well be smart to promptly open Zell an office in the old Times-Mirror corporate headquarters downtown, and invite him to use it whenever he feels like staying out here. Before long, he may come to operate out of those offices.
Another good thing about this sale is that it finally gets rid of the Chandler family, which ever since easing Otis Chandler out of the L.A. Times publisher ship in 1980, has played a less and less constructive role in the history of the Times. The family is not only highly mercenary, but it has been little interested in the Times as a quality paper. Otis and his mother, Dorothy Buffum Chandler, may have been excellent people. The rest of their family was quite a bit less admirable.
Zell may become interested in journalism now that he is becoming chairman of the one of the largest media outfits in America.
In any case, he should be given every chance, and, under all these circumstances, be welcomed at the Times with open arms, until and unless, he gives reason for supporters and staff of the newspaper to feel otherwise.
Somehow, I think it has a good chance of working out, and that the Times could become a real California institution once again.
Labels: Tribune bids